Man those armaments Gunner, we are sailing seas in enemy territory and can be ambushed at any moment. Our foe is formidable and takes no prisoners but neither do we. Get ready for war as we review Battle Group 2 for Nintendo Switch.
Created by Bane Games and published by Merge Games, Battle Group 2 was released on Steam back in June 2014. It received relatively positive reviews and Bane Games’ first title on Nintendo Switch. The Australian based company used real-world blueprints to accurately create all player and enemy aircraft. Battle Group 2 was originally a PC and mobile title but due to the touch-screen functionality of the Switch, Battle Group 2 made the jump onto the console.
Battle Group 2 puts players in the shoes of the military’s Chief Gunner on board the most powerful battleships created. Scour the seas and fight back the enemy with missile barrages, satellite strikes and your own squadron of assault choppers. You have to withstand enemy attacks whilst dealing some damage of your own on over 30 different missions. The enemy is a Terrorist group known as the Talon. They are no pushovers and seem to have a near infinite amount of weaponry and aircraft at their disposal. You have to fight with just as much tenacity as the Talon does if you want to make it through each level in one piece.
As a semi-real life action game, Battle Group 2 does have some very good looking textures. The sea that covers the majority of the screen is very well done and is quite realistic. The designs of the enemy crafts and missiles are finely rendered and easily distinguishable from the backdrop. The game has a Top-down perspective that allows you to see what is coming at you from all angles. The camera pans towards where enemies will be coming from next so you don’t feel completely surrounded. There are times though where the camera has your ships directly in the center so you will always need to be on guard.
The sound of the game is nicely done and the voice acting is very clear and understandable. The music is impactful and sets the tone for an immersive experience. It might not be a DOOM worthy score with heavy metal-esque rifts but it will spike the adrenaline enough to get your reflexes into gear.
When you begin Battle Group 2, you start off with a single ship and can increase your fleet to two. Your Primary vessel’s armaments are directly controlled by you, whereas the secondary vessel will automatically attack incoming missiles and enemy craft after you give the command to do so. You cannot actively move your ships at all and will be moving along an invisible rail from point A to point B.
There are up to 8 different vessels you can purchase but you can only use 2 at any one time. To purchase vessels, you have to collect oil drums. These come from destroying enemy craft and if you can work up a kill streak, you can earn more. Unfortunately, the economics of this game is extremely frustrating as you can never earn enough to purchase the stronger ships. You will have to rely on upgrading your current ships first to stand a chance against tougher levels and then you have to endlessly repeat levels over and over which gets very tedious, very fast.
There are extra perks that can get introduced over time. These allow you to slow down time, wipe out all enemy crafts and projectiles with an EMP strike or instantly recharge ammo. All weapons have a cooldown which can be reduced somewhat but it is never enough when you are overcome with enemy projectiles and do not have enough ammunition to blow them out of the sky.
You are giving a very short tutorial at the beginning that teaches you the basics of the game. You will learn that the effective way of blowing up incoming bogeys is to aim and fire in front of their trajectory. Knowing where and when to fire is paramount for success as you own missiles can take time to arrive at their destination. Trying to hit moving targets depends a lot on skill and a bit of luck. The blue ring on the screen is your reticle which you can move anywhere on the screen with the left Joystick or by pressing your finger on the console’s screen which will also fire automatically in that direction. As long as the target is inside the blast radius of the reticle, it will count as a hit. Some enemy crafts take several hits before they go down. Try to make every missile strike count as there is quite a slow reload period which, can hinder how effectively you dispatch enemy units.
The missions take place over 3 different theatres of war, from Icy waterways, tropical jungles or nearby busy marine ports. Some levels are also played under the cover of darkness and have you rely on night vision in order to spot incoming enemy crafts. Most levels will normally have you defend yourself from incoming attacks. Other missions will have you try to defend an erratic airliner that constantly gets in your line of fire when trying to fend off enemy missiles. There are also a few levels that have you face off against an enormous submarine with enough cruise missiles that could sink a continent.
The touch-screen controls do come in handy with this title. You can choose to play with both button controls and touch-screen controls whilst in handheld mode and it when the screen gets particularly busy with enemies, touch-screen allows you to respond much quicker but at a slight cost. You can’t see what’s under your finger when you fire so you do leave it more to chance and hope that the enemy flies into the blast zone. It does make it easier to use your special perks though as even though they have their own button to activate, it is not specified what button activates what. You could misuse a perk at the wrong moment and when they are quite costly (at around 100- 300 barrels depending on the perk) it is not a luxury anyone can afford.
Whilst using the button controls, it can be a bit slow going moving the reticle around. There is a button to speed it up but when large groups of enemies swarm in on you, you will soon notice that the reticle doesn’t move fast enough. The frame rate can also dramatically increase when too many enemies spawn on the screen. It can slow right down to a snails’ pace until you can wipe out enough of them to get the frame rate back up.
I really wanted to like this game, and I do but the in-game economics forces you to endlessly grind in a way that is even less fun than RPG’s. Levels are relatively short which, is a good thing but you soon get bored of having to blow up every single thing you can in the hopes to get enough barrels to buy a better ship. Or at least upgrade the ones you have already. As a mobile title, it is ideal for short bursts of play but on the Switch, you would still only want to play it in short bursts. The time it takes to finally be able to purchase a decent warship for your fleet, you could easily complete the game with what you have already.
THE VERDICT: 6/10
*Review Key Provided by Merge Games
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